Help the Snoqualmie Tribe Ancestral Land Movement by Collecting Observations While Out Hiking and Recreating

Summer is leaving us soon with colder nights and fewer visitors to our local parks and trailheads. While I will miss the longer days, I won’t miss the overflowing garbage cans & dumpsters, crowded parking lots, loose dogs, and inevitable waste.

In these days of having to limit indoor activities and as the area’s population has grown, there has been a rush from all over the state to utilize all the outdoor recreational opportunities in the Snoqualmie Valley. This rush has caused some big problems for our local recreational areas.

It seems that some of our summer visitors have forgotten some or all the seven principles of Leave No Trace.[1]

“The Seven Principles of Leave No Trace provide an easily understood framework of minimum impact practices for anyone visiting the outdoors.” These principles are:

  • Plan ahead & Prepare
  • Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces
  • Dispose of Waste Properly
  • Leave What You Find
  • Respect Wildlife
  • Be Considerate of Other Visitors

Resident Fiona has seen growing issues over the past 5-7 years at Rattlesnake Lake and Twin Falls, including overflowing trash cans, litter in parking lots, cars not following parking signs and the trash being left on the trails & by the river.

She documented the problems with photos and has taken it upon herself to clean up when she can, contacting the city of North Bend to ask who is responsible for clean-up near exit 34. The city directed her to WSDOT, who told her they’d be cleaning up in the future. Fiona believes enforcement, education and limiting the number of visitors to trailheads would go a long way in improving the problem.

Amy Armstrong lives in a community not far from Rattlesnake Lake and has been increasingly concerned with the litter and overcrowding and over hiking the ledge trail. A lifelong local, she found it so heartbreaking she organized neighborhood trash clean-up events at Rattlesnake Lake and has participated in “Help Keep it Clean Upstream” at the Summit at Snoqualmie several times.

Armstrong contacted the Cedar River Watershed to get permission to have the organized trash pickup event.  She had to contact them again after one event because the trash receptacles were repeatedly overflowing with trash despite the group’s efforts to pick up garbage.

Watershed staff recommended she email them to officially complain. If the nature of the complaint was due to illegal parking or other unlawful activities, call the King County Sherriff. Her biggest fear is that someone will have a campfire, as she has seen several times when visiting the lake.  Says Armstrong, “One of those little fires could take out my neighborhood in a short amount of time.” She agrees enforcement would help along with parking fees.

Rattlesnake Lake trash photo that went viral over the summer (photographer unknown)

11-year-old resident Stella and her mom Nicole are also concerned. Stella notes that the litter has been unsightly around the Valley and in all the parks and trails off I90. She, too, has personally fished many glass bottles out of Rattlesnake lake.

Stella says she” would like the schools here to educate the students on the importance of keeping our environment clean, global warming, and preservation of our forests and rivers.”

Her mom Nicole agrees, saying, “We hope this helps to bring awareness to our community about the litter issues. Washington used to be the 3rd cleanest state in the ’90s when I was a kid. I would like (it) to return to being the cleanest state in the USA.”

Social media shows more and more locals are feeling frustrated, unheard and fed-up with the growing disrespect for the place we all call home.

However, this past summer, the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe launched the Snoqualmie Tribe Ancestral Lands Movement to raise awareness of the cultural significance and ecological fragility of the Tribe’s ancestral lands, as well as the detrimental impacts outdoor recreation has had on them.[2]

Severe ecological damage due to outdoor activities is especially apparent at the popular trails in the Snoqualmie corridor, including Mt Si, Twin Falls, Rattlesnake Ledge, Issaquah Alps, Tiger Mountain, Franklin Falls, Snoqualmie Falls, Lake Sammamish, and the Middle Fork.

According to the Tribe, in 2018, one survey found that the number of people in the Seattle area who said they had been hiking during the previous year had more than doubled since 2008, to an estimated total of more than 940,000 people in the last ten years. In that same year, the Seattle Times reported that this increase in the number of hikers in the region was seven times greater than the region’s rapid population growth over the last decade.

This increase in recreation pressure has not been addressed with equivalent increases in investments for land conservation, stewardship, and recreation or in staffing for the public agencies entrusted with safeguarding these irreplaceable landscapes, resulting in extensive damage to Snoqualmie Tribe’s ancestral lands.

Says Snoqualmie Tribal Chairman, Robert de los Angeles, “We hope that by proactively sharing information with the public about these sacred spaces that people will be more mindful, respectful, and restrained when they choose to recreate on the Snoqualmie Tribe’s ancestral lands.”

The tribe is asking everyone to take a few simple steps while recreating on Snoqualmie ancestral lands to practice respect and help the Tribe in protecting and restoring these lands for generations to come:

  • Treat the lands with the respect they deserve, by picking up your own trash, and that of others that you see, properly disposing of pet waste, and staying on designated trails.
  • Commit to experience the lands in a way that is centered in mindfulness, rather than conquest.
  • Learn more about the Snoqualmie Tribe and its history and deep connection to these lands and support the work the Tribe does today to continue stewarding these lands.
  • Acknowledge that you are recreating on Snoqualmie ancestral lands through both written acknowledgement and through practice.
  • Help the Tribe spread its message by encouraging others to learn more and practice land acknowledgement both on and off the trails.

In addition, you can support the Snoqualmie Tribe Ancestral Lands Movement (STALM) by collecting observations while out hiking and recreating. 

Survey123 is an industry-standard GIS data collection tool you can download on your phone.  It allows you to collect an observation, including a location and a photo and submit that to the Snoqualmie Tribe.  Such observations may include:

  • Litter-trailside litter, bottles, wrappers
  • Dumping-trash bags or items that do not belong
  • Pet waster-bagged/unbagged
  • Graffiti-defacing vegetation, trail signage, boulders/rocks
  • Trail degradation-braided trail, spur trail, erosion
  • Unsanctioned trail-unmapped or unmanaged
  • Trail signage-non-inclusive trail signage
  • Insufficient infrastructure-lack of trash facility, overflowing pit toilet
  • Traffic/parking-overflowing parking lots, cars parked along roadside

The app allows you to collect data without a data connection and then submit your observations when you are back in range on a cell or Wi-Fi network. At this point, The tribe is using the app as a tool to point to the need for additional resources/infrastructure to be included when planning for recreational development.

Depending on what is reported, they will relay it to their own contacts for trail maintenance, etc. Currently, there is very little information or tracking of the effects of recreation development in the I-90 corridor. This is one way they hope to look critically at what is going on in the Tribe’s Ancestral Lands.

“The Tribe welcomes those who respectfully enjoy our beautiful ancestral lands,” said McKenna Sweet Dorman, a Snoqualmie Tribal Member who serves as the assistant director of governmental affairs & special projects with the Tribe.

“Unfortunately, because of the exponential increase in outdoor recreation coupled with the selfish and destructive practices of recreators who are unaware, these lands are being loved to death. The Tribe is asking its neighbors to show respect when interacting with these lands so that future generations may also experience their unique beauty. The Snoqualmie Tribe encourages Washingtonians to heal past damage and avoid future impacts through the practice of appropriate land acknowledgment, which includes educating themselves about the lands’ history and connection to the Snoqualmie People, recreating in moderation, respecting rules about littering and staying on designated trails, and supporting the Snoqualmie Tribe’s stewardship and education efforts.”

You can learn more about how to participate in the Ancestral Lands Movement by visiting STALM’s Facebook page here.  


[1] (© 1999 by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org)

[2] The Snoqualmie Tribe Asks the Public to Recreate Respectfully on its Ancestral Lands | Snoqualmie Indian Tribe

Comments

  1. You’ve forgotten Minimize Campfires Impacts, one of the most important especially at this time of year.

  2. When there was a recent green Snoqualmie event on the Ridge only 1 of the volunteers was from Snoqualmie (the rest were from Seattle, Issaquah etc) and when a neighbor asked what they were doing said, “don’t we pay taxes for people to pick up the trash.” So we should probably educate the new immigrants who didn’t grow up in countries where there are Native lands nor much environmental awarenss.

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